New Advanced Materials Characterization Institutional Core

Dr. Paul Baker
Dr. Paul Baker, Director

The Advanced Materials Characterization (AMC) Core has been selected an institutional research core (Director: Dr. Paul Baker and co-Director: Dr. Vinoy Thomas). It will be a part of the fifteen cores that are supported centrally by the office of Vice President for Research. The AMC Core will provide a broad range of services related to the research and development of materials. Our services will cover the analysis of basic properties of materials such as the structure, composition, and hardness. The types of materials to be analyzed include biomaterials, nanomaterials, metals, ceramics, thin films, composite materials, and semiconductors.

Dr. Vinoy Thomas
Dr. Vinoy Thomas, Co-Director

The AMC Core will include the University’s only scanning electron microscope (SEM), which provides high resolution images of surfaces of a broad range of materials, including soft matter (biological samples) and has elemental analysis capability (EDX). The x-ray photoelectron spectrometer (XPS) is a powerful surface analysis (probing depth of only 3-10nm) instrument that provides elemental composition and chemical bonding information with small spot size (minimum 10 micrometers) and surface mapping capability. The multipurpose X-ray diffractometer (XRD) is a state-of-the-art instrument purchased in 2018 that provides information on crystal structure and phase identification, particle size and shape analysis (SAXS), thin film analysis, epitaxial layer analysis, and can be upgraded to include even additional capabilities. The micro-Raman spectrometer is a high-resolution spectrometer that analyzes the vibrational modes of the material to provide information about the molecular structure of a material. The nanoindenter measures the hardness of a material near the surface and can measure polymers and thin films. These materials growth and characterization facilities are being combined and proposed as a single core to provide materials characterization under one managed facility and serve as a catalyst for innovative materials discovery at UAB. One of the key strengths of the core will be the broad support from industry usage as well as the multi-departmental use. This multi-disciplinary approach to characterization of advanced materials is a part of the UAB research mission.


Congratulations to Our 2020-21 NASA REU Participants

2020-21 NASA REU – Hybrid Model

In spite of not being able to have a Summer 2020 REU due to COVID-19, NASA REU is moving forward for 2020-21 with REU for a 10 week period beginning October 1, 2020.The following UAB students have been selected to participate in this fascinating hybrid REU model.  We want to recognize and congratulate them.

Rachel Day is a UAB Junior
Major: Physics
Mentor: Dr. Andrei Stanishevsky, Physics

Hannah Blansett is a Junior at UAB
Major: Materials Science & Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Vinoy Thomas, Material Sciences and Engineering

Brita is a UAB Senior
Major: Physics
Mentor: Dr. Cheng-Chien, Physics
Ishmael James
Ishmael is a Senior at UAB
Major: Physics
Mentor: Dr. Ryoichi Kawai, Physics

NSF EPSCoR Seed Grant Funding for UAB Investigators

Dr. Yogesh K. Vohra is pleased to announce that the following collaborative seed grants from UAB were selected for funding by the NSF EPSCoR RII program in Alabama for FY2021. These are collaborative grants between two Alabama institutions that are part of this NSF supported state-wide consortium in plasma science and technology.

Dr. Aaron Catledge (PI), Awarded Amount $40,000

Aaron Catledge
Dr. Aaron Catledge

Title: Low-temperature plasma as a means to create superhard high-entropy metal diborides via boro-carbothermal reduction

Collaborating Institution: Tuskegee University

Dr. Cheng-Chien Chen (PI), Awarded Amount $40,000

Dr. Cheng-Chien Chen

Tile: Assemble Plasmon and Phonon Polaritons in Atomic-Scale van der Waals Hybrids

Collaborating Institution: Auburn University

Dr. Vineeth Vijayan (PI) and Dr. Vinoy Thomas, Awarded Amount $40,000

Dr. Vineeth Vijayan

Title: Low Temperature Dusty Plasma based Nanoparticles Modified Polymer Scaffolds as Potential Biointerface for Bone Tissues

Collaborating Institution: Alabama State University & Auburn University



Dr. Masaru Nakanotani (PI, UAH), Awarded Amount, $40,000

Title:Physics of Collisional Shock Waves :Laser Ablation Experiments, Fluid and Fully Kinetic Simulations

Collaborating Institutions: CFDRC & UAB –Dr. Renato Camata

Congratulations to all the PI’s and their collaborators!

NSF EPSCoR Program Harnesses Non-thermal Plasma Processing for Nano-structuring 3D Printed Tissue-Scaffolds: 

Dr. Vinoy Thomas, Materials Science and Engineering

A UAB team led by Dr. Vinoy Thomas, Department of Materials Science & Engineering, has surface engineered 3D Printed polymeric soft biomaterial scaffolds by an in-situ robust synthesis of nanoparticles using low temperature dusty plasma.

The proof-of-concept communication published in ACS Applied Nano Materials, reports a rapid and easy method for nanoparticles (SiNp) synthesis from a liquid precursor into dusty plasma and deposition of them onto 3D printed polymer. “Non-thermal plasma has emerged as a viable method for surface engineering soft materials and biomaterials”, says Dr. Vineeth Vijayan, (first author of the publication), “and we have successfully utilized non-thermal plasma for making super-hydrophilic and blood-friendly materials surfaces in our previous publication in Journal of Materials Chemistry”.

As part of the NSF supported EPSCoR collaborative CPU2AL program, the new method we reported has many appealing attributes:

    1. It is a single step greener and cost effective process
    2. The radiofrequency plasma reactor can be an ideal scalable technology for industries to produce and modify the surface of various biomedical scaffolds/devices with SiNp, and
    3. This method can simultaneously modify the 3D printed scaffolds with SiNp for biomedical applications (bone tissue engineering) and also sterilize them.

The future aspects of this present work will deal with (I) functionalization and attachment of SiNp with biochemical moieties by using volatile amino acids in the plasma phase and (II) strategies for preparation titanium dioxide nanoparticles and nanowires via plasma process which in turn could be used for decontaminate corona virus during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

NASA Fall 2020 Research Experiences for Undergraduates

NASA – Alabama Space Grant Consortium

Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) Program

Hybrid and Remote Undergraduate Research Experiences in Materials Research

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

NASA-Alabama Space Grant Consortium (ASGC) program at UAB is inviting applications for a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program during Fall-2020 and Spring-2021 from students that are currently enrolled at UAB. We offer REU-projects in five research clusters: (1) computational materials research/machine learning (2) materials under extreme conditions (3) materials for energy applications, (4) materials for sensors and laser applications, and (5) biomaterials for implants, tissue engineering and drug delivery applications. This REU experience will be offered in a hybrid model which will include fully remote participation for computational research projects and partly remote and partly on ground lab experiences for experimental research projects within the constraints of social distancing and other laboratory safety measures. The undergraduates will carry out the analysis of data generated in their research projects in a fully remote fashion and make Zoom presentations on completed research to faculty mentors and other undergraduates participating in this program.

The program will offer flexible working hours during Fall-2020 and Spring-2021 (staring October 1, 2020 and ending February 28th, 2021). The program will pay $5,000 over the entire work period involving 400 hours of remote/hybrid research with a faculty mentor at UAB.

For program information contact program director Yogesh Vohra ( and for application questions contact program coordinator Charita Cadenhead (

The application deadline is September 15th, 2020. Apply using the following web-site.

UAB collaboration in non-thermal plasma processing shows promise

An interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has developed a new method designed to improve the surface characteristics of Teflon, or polyhetrafluorethylene (PTFE). This method has the potential to address challenges associated with PTFE for blood-contact applications—specifically poor endothelial cell growth and the risk of blood clots.

This article originally post on UAB Engineering website.  Read full article here.

New boron material of high hardness created by plasma chemical vapor deposition

Yogesh Vohra, Ph.D., uses microwave-plasma chemical vapor deposition to create thin crystal films of never-before-seen materials. This effort seeks materials that approach a diamond in hardness and are able to survive extreme pressure, temperature and corrosive environments. The search for new materials is motivated by the desire to overcome limitations of diamond, which tends to oxidize at temperatures higher than 600 degrees Celsius and also chemically reacts with ferrous metals.

See full article here as written by Jeff Hanson, UAB News.

Summer 2020 REU Program Cancelled

Summer 2020 REU Program Cancelled

Because of abundance of caution, and for the safety of our faculty, staff, students and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program participants, we are cancelling the NSF and NASA supported 2020 summer research program for undergraduates on UAB campus due to COVID-19 and related disruptions.

This decision is not easy as we have run this program successfully on UAB campus for the past twenty-two years.

We do hope that you are able to make the best of your summer and that you and your family stay safe.  If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please let me know.

Yogesh K. Vohra, Ph.D.

REU Program Director

2019 REU Bryce Coyne Attends Photonics West Conference

Photonics West Conference 2020

Bryce CoyneAttending the SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco was an incredible experience that shed new light onto my research and the filed of optics and lasers that I was previously unaware of. This was my first academic conference that I had attended and being a talk presenter made it feel even more like jumping into the deep end of a pool. The first couple days the scale of the conference was quite overwhelming, with the events spanning three conference halls and multiple hotels in the area. I was able deal with the nerves that I had going into my presentation using some meditation skills I have acquired through collegiate baseball. Going over my talk with my research advisor it came to my attention how important it is to be as accurate as possible when discussing my research in the professional setting. I had previously presented this research in August of 2019 to fellow undergraduate physics researchers and mentors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. At Photonics West my talk would be under significantly more scrutiny than in the undergraduate setting. The pressure resulted in me having to know the ins and outs of all aspects of my talk. Post-talk questions also brought to light a couple aspects of my research I has not previously thought of. For most, I was asked about potential utilization of the InP crystal analyzed for laser applications going forward which could have real merit and possibilities. This would turn my summer research project into a large-scale project similar to a dissertation.

At the conference I was also able to attend a four-hour course on laser fundamentals with the emphasis being placed how the private laser sector discusses and buys/sells laser systems. The course in addition to providing new information allowed me to think about private optics companies which may be a field I have interest getting into in my future.

The conference also had a large exhibition for companies to showcase new technologies that they have developed. Companies ranged from small photonics start-ups to large companies such as ThorLabs and M2. Personally, walking about the exhibition hall and discussing products and jobs with exhibitioners was more insightful than sitting in on talks. I was able to relate skills and tools that I have developed in the lab to what others are doing in private sectors. To me the exhibition hall was the hidden aspect of science that is an accumulation of academia. Up to this point in my life, education has been the end goal but I now a new perspective of where my education may lead me to. And Photonics West was a great intersection of academics presenting talks and posters while companies showcase their technologies. Overall, the conference was a challenge I had to face in presenting and getting over fears along with a great opportunity to see how much insightful and interesting stuff is going on in optics. I am incredibly humble and grateful to be given this opportunity to present and attend the conference and I hope to continue to make the most of the opportunity that I was given.

Now Recruiting for 2020 NSF REU Program

Research Experiences for Undergraduates 2020

We are now accepting applications for undergraduate students from around the country to participated in our 10-week National Science Foundation (NSF) supported Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in “Experimental and Computational Materials Research”. We offer a broad range of interdisciplinary materials research experiences to undergraduate students with diverse backgrounds in physics, chemistry, applied mathematics, and engineering. Stipend for the 10-week period is $5000. Housing will be provided to non-local participants. Application Deadline: March 15, 2020. If students have any questions about logistics, housing, and travel arrangements, they may contact Charita Cadenhead, our Program Coordinator at (205) 975-8076 or via e-mail at

2020 REU Recruitment Poster